We love bestselling author Jill Mansell’s smart, sassy style. Mansell lives in England (and has never been to the US) but her books (she’s sold over 4 million!) resonate with women of all ages everywhere.
In her newest, Rumor Has It, newly singleton, Tilly Cole, impulsively accepts a job offer in a small town as a “Girl Friday.” Fun job, country house, fresh start, why not? But soon she finds herself in a hotbed of gossip, intrigue, and rampant rivalry for the town’s most desirable bachelor — Jack Lucas.
Jill knows Jack
Rumors of Jack’s “love ’em and leave ’em” escapades abound, and Tilly decides to do the mature, sensible thing: Avoid Jack at all costs. But the more time Tilly spends with Jack, the more the rumors just don’t make sense. Tilly doesn’t know what to believe…and Jack’s not telling.
SheKnows chatted up Jill Mansell about the book, her dream vacation, her dream date and the secret life of this fabulous Chick Lit author from across the pond.
SheKnows: Without giving away the plot, tell us about Rumor Has It.
Jill Mansell: The book is about leaving your old life behind and starting a new and hopefully improved one, which is an idea I think we’ve all had at one stage or another in our lives when things haven’t been going well! I write feel-good fiction, with goings-on that are slightly larger than life but not excessively so. I like my books to be grounded in reality, but prefer to leave out the boring bits.
SheKnows: What do you want readers to know about main character Tilly Cole?
Jill Mansell: I think most of my main female characters are me to an extent, so I’d have to say that Tilly is well-meaning, likes to be liked, is used to having silly or embarrassing things happen to her and gets herself into complicated situations that aren’t always easy to get out of. Like yesterday when I was out and discreetly reached up under the back of my cashmere sweater to adjust the hooks on my bra, which were digging into my back. Sadly, my bracelet caught on the inside of the sweater and there I was, in the street, unable to unhook my bracelet without tearing a hole in my expensive sweater. I looked like Houdini unable to escape from a straitjacket — you see, this is what I’m like, hopelessly accident-prone. It will happen to a character in a future book now. That’s the good thing about embarrassing situations — for a novelist, nothing is ever wasted!
SheKnows: Describe Jack Lucas in five words.
Jill Mansell: Jack Lucas? He is ravishingly attractive, discreet, witty and … Doug Ross.
SheKnows: Why do you feel your books appeal to women of multiple generations?
Jill Mansell: It’s amazing — I’ve had fan letters from all ages, from 15-year-old girls all the way up to 85-year-old women, even the occasional eighty-something man! I think it’s because I have a wide age-range of characters in my books, so there’s something for everyone. But that’s real life, isn’t it? We can all learn from people older or younger than ourselves, too.
Inside Jill Mansell’s world
SheKnows: Your favorite Rom Com (romantic comedy) of all time (movie and/or book)?
Jill Mansell: Gosh, tough decision! I’m going to be torn between Four Weddings and a Funeral and When Harry met Sally, film-wise — I love them both soooo much. People say my books are like Four Weddings, so maybe that’s my favorite.
SheKnows: Authors you enjoy?
Jill Mansell: Oh, I’m a massive Marian Keyes fan. And Sophie Kinsella’s fab, too. I’ve also just ordered Nora Ephron’s Heartburn and can’t wait for it to arrive. (See? I can’t do choices — don’t try and make me!)
SheKnows: Small town or big city?
Jill Mansell: What did I just say about choices?! I grew up in a small Cotswold village and longed to live in the city, so moved out when I was 18. Now I think I’d like to move back to the countryside, although small towns have their charms, too. It’s no good, I just want to live in all of them! (And by alternating these settings for my books, in a way that’s what I do. There’s nothing more thrilling than starting a new novel and deciding where all my characters are going to live. Plus it makes me feel powerful!)
SheKnows: Mac or PC?
Jill Mansell: I’m not very technical so the word Mac makes me think of make-up! I have an iPod for fun, a PC laptop for typing emails and Q&As like this, and a fountain pen and writing pad for writing my books. They’re all written by hand.
SheKnows: Print Book or eReader?
Jill Mansell: Print book, but I haven’t tried an eReader yet. I may be swayed when that happens.
SheKnows: Who would be your dream date and what would you do?
Jill Mansell: George Clooney. Use your imagination…
SheKnows: What would be your dream vacation?
Jill Mansell: We’ve discovered our dream vacation. Cruise ships provide everything we need in a holiday. We love to explore the Mediterranean and the Greek Islands. Cruises are so friendly and luxurious, and there’s always so much to do. And to eat…
SheKnows: What is the secret life of Jill Mansell?
Jill Mansell: The secret life of Jill Mansell — gosh, doesn’t that sound mysterious? I suppose it’s my writing life, really. When I worked in the hospital for 18 years, I hated to ever be on my own at home and always made sure I was never alone. My friends from those days now find it hilarious that I spend my working days completely alone, but it doesn’t feel lonely because my head’s always buzzing with the book I’m currently working on. I like my characters and enjoy spending my time with them. I have to say, I probably wouldn’t be so keen on it if I were writing about a murdering psychopath.
SheKnows: Why do you love chick lit?
Jill Mansell: The biggest compliment anyone can pay me is to tell me my books have got them through a difficult time in their life. I like to cheer people up with my stories and in the past, when I’ve been in need of cheering up, other writer’s books have made me feel better. Now I’m returning the favor. But chick-lit doesn’t always have to be read by people who are miserable — you can be perfectly happy and just in the mood for a spot of feel-good entertainment! Happy people are allowed to read my books, too!
SheKnows: Fave place in the UK?
Jill Mansell: Favorite place in the UK has to be the Cotswolds. I’d love to move back there, but my family won’t let me. I’m close enough to visit, though. Roxborough, in the book, is based on Tetbury, where the Royal Princes live and where I went to school. It’s a gorgeous little town — highly recommended if you’re in the UK.
SheKnows: Fave place in the US?
Jill Mansell: I’ve never visited the US. I’d love to, but my partner has developed a fear of flying which is making things tricky. Don’t worry, I’ll get to you one day!
SheKnows: What you want readers to take away from Rumor Has It?
Jill Mansell: I really love the ending of Rumor Has It. When you finish reading it, I want you to smile and feel happy…and turn to the internet in search of more of my books!